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New rules at Supreme Court demonstrate larger struggle to end gender bias in U.S. workplaces

2 years 1 month 3 weeks ago Thursday, October 14 2021 Oct 14, 2021 October 14, 2021 6:59 AM October 14, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

Gender bias in the workplace is often such a controversial topic that it can only be discussed in the light of related research and statistics. Otherwise, isolated personal accounts from employees who claim they are consistently interrupted, overlooked, or not treated with the same respect accorded to colleagues of the opposite gender can be easily dismissed.

As more employers turn to official research and statistics to ensure the fair treatment of all employees, the ugly truth about gender bias continues to emerge.

For example, a study conducted by Andrei Cimpian, an associate professor in the department of psychology at NYU, and Lin Bian, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, demonstrated that there is an implicit bias that women are ‘intellectually inferior to men’.

From two experiments with more than 1,800 participants of both genders across more than 30 disciplines, the researchers found that when a job requires someone of intellect, women had 25.3 percent lower probability of being appointed.

The study indicated that genius, brilliance and innate intellectuality are often viewed as ‘masculine’ traits, and if a discipline is perceived to require this, then women are under-represented.

This kind of bias against women in the workplace has even been demonstrated in the Supreme Court. 

This week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told an audience that recent changes in the format of oral arguments were instituted, in part, after studies revealed that female justices on the court were interrupted more by male justices and advocates.

Sotomayor said the studies, including one by researchers Tonja Jacoby and Dylan Schweers in 2017, have had an "enormous impact" and resulted in Chief Justice John Roberts being "much more sensitive" to ensuring that people were not interrupted or at least that he would play referee if needed.

She added that this is a pervasive societal problem that exists outside of the courtroom as well.

"Most of the time women say things and they are not heard in the same way as men who might say the identical thing," Sotomayor said.

While addressing an audience at the New York University School of Law during a Wednesday conference on diversity and inclusion, the 67-year-old associate justice of the Supreme Court went on to explain that she'd noticed the pattern "without question" before the system was changed on the bench and sometimes she would respond in a way that she knew was probably not ideal.

"I interrupt back," she said.

Sotomayor also touched on the need for more professional diversity on the court, and what she's experienced as the court's first Latina.

"If you are a person of color, you have to work harder than everybody else to succeed," Sotomayor said. "It's the nature of -- the competitive nature of our society -- where you have to prove yourself every day."

"And I don't know many people of color who don't come into this enterprise without feeling that pressure of knowing that they have to work harder," she said.

The court's new system at oral arguments has been demonstrated to the full now that the justices are back in open court. Since the new system's implementation, the justices have not cut each other off like they did in times past.

The traditional format has been adjusted to allow each justice, after an attorney's time has expired, to ask specific questions in order of seniority.

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